A Los Angeles jury recently awarded $48 million to an 86-year-old man and his wife after determining multiple companies were liable for the man's mesothelioma.
During his career, the man worked in the construction industry. Reportedly, he worked as a cement contractor and construction superintendant from 1947 until 1980, during which time he was exposed to asbestos. He used products manufactured by Union Carbine Corp., California Portland Cement Co. and Riverside Cement in the course of his job duties.
In July 2011, he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and in September 2011, he filed a lawsuit claiming negligence on the part of the companies that provided the products that contained asbestos.
During the trial, which lasted six weeks, Union Carbide's attorney attempted to argue that the type of asbestos to which the man was exposed, called "Calidria asbestos," was not a carcinogen. Despite the many expert witnesses the company brought forth to testify to its safety, internal memos that had been confidential exposed that the company had been aware of its dangerous properties. The memos, written by Union Carbine doctors, chastised internal divisions for informing their customers that asbestos did not cause cancer.
Both California Portland Cement Co. and Riverside Cement argued that only small amounts of asbestos could have been released from their products. Scientific evidence of a significant quantify of asbestos fibers in their products negated their argument, though.
The jury awarded $30 million in compensatory damages, which are awarded to provide for an individual following a specific injury or loss. In addition, Union Carbine was directed to pay another $18 million to the couple, as the jury determined the company acted with malice.
Source: Baldwin Park Patch, "Former Baldwin Park Councilman Awarded $48 million in Asbestos Suit," June 21, 2012.